Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles
Area of work
Ex-Situ Conservation, Extinction Risk Assessment, EDGE Species
Critically endangered species
Google Scholar

Ben is the Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles and his area of work is focussed on species conservation. 

Alarmingly, 41% of amphibians and 21% of reptiles are threatened with extinction. Amphibians are the most threatened group of vertebrates on the planet. His role entails making sure that we are working for the species that most require our help. With the wider teams at ZSL, we prioritise species for conservation, undertake research that may aid conservation decision making and interventions and Ben actively participates in efforts to recover threatened species. He is also heavily invested in training the wildlife professionals and conservation biologists of the future

Ben with a group in the river, and with R S Naveen, an EDGE fellow
Ben in the field with colleagues conducting ecological surveys for Chinese giant salamanders (L) and with ZSL EDGE Fellow R S Naveen.

Amphibians and reptiles are incredible groups of animals. Sadly, they are widely maligned and misunderstood. 

Through our work at our zoos we aim to engage new audiences with the incredible diversity of amphibians and reptiles so that our visitors can appreciate the importance of these animals and understand what we can all do to protect them.

Many amphibian and reptile species are poorly known, and new species are discovered on a weekly basis. Our lack of knowledge may undermine our ability to use limited conservation resources to conserve the most imperilled species or assemblages. As conservation practitioners, we must decide when we know enough about a species or a threat to have some degree of certainty that our conservation interventions will be effective against the backdrop of ongoing species decline and a need for imminent action. 

Success in amphibian and reptile conservation requires locally led, conservation action that is underpinned by robust decision making that is informed by scientific research.

Lake Oku clawed frog tadpole (left) and a Purple frog (R)
Two threatened EDGE species that Ben is working on. Lake Oku clawed frog tadpole (L) and Purple frog (R)

Ben's work contributes to improving our knowledge of reptiles and amphibians in general so we can take evidence-based conservation action and recover populations of threatened species. He also collaborates and exchanges skills and knowledge with conservation biologists all over the world, particularly with EDGE Fellows and colleagues working in ex situ conservation. Collectively we can make a difference to some of the world’s most threatened species.

Big headed turtle
The Big-headed turtle, this highly EDGE species is the focus of species recovery work in northern Vietnam.


Recent Publications

Jain, A., Akshay, V.A., Deepak, V., Das, A, Barnes, P., Tapley, B., Cavado-Blanoc, F. 2024. Using local ecological knowledge to understand the status of Cantor’s giant softshell turtle in Kerala, India. Oryx 1-10.

Naveen, R.S., Tapley, B., Chandramouli, S.R., Jervis, P., Babu, S., Meetei, A.B., Karunakaran, P.V. 2023. A new species of Bufoides Pillai and Yazdani 1973 (Amphibia: Bufonidae) from Mizoram, Northeast India and the delimitation of the distribution range of Bufoides meghalayanus (Yazdani & Chanda 1971) to the Khasi hills, Meghalaya. Biodiversitas, 24: 4617-4627

Ngo, H.T., McCormack, T.E., Ha, V.L., Tapley, B., Nguyen, T.T., Le, M.H., Le, D.T., Nguyen, T.T., Trinh, H.L.T., Nguyen, T.Q., Ziegler, T. 2023. Genetic diversity of the Critically Endangered Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) based on wild and traded samples: implications for conservation. Diversity, 15: 958.

Kane, D, Tapley, B., La, T.V., Nguyen, L.T. 2023. A new species of the genus Rhabdophis Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Colubridae) from the Hoang Lien range, north-west Vietnam. Zootaxa, 5343: 101-125

Bradfield, K., Tapley, B., Johnson, K. 2023. Amphibians and conservation breeding programmes: how do we determine who should be on the ark? Biodiversity and conservation, 32: 885-898.

Kane, D., Tapley, B., Carter, K.C. Michaels, C.J. 2022. Reproduction of the Ethiopian mountain adder, Bitis parviocula (Reptilia: Viperidae), at ZSL London Zoo. Herpetology Notes, 15: 423-429.

Nguyen, L.T., Tapley. B., Nguyen, C.T., Rowley, J.J.L. 2021. A new species of Leptobrachella (Anura, Megophryidae) from Mount Pu Ta Leng, northwest Vietnam. Zootaxa , 5016: 301-332.

Hoang, H., McCormack, T.E.M, Lo, H., Nguyen, M., Tapley, B. 2021. Hunting and trade of big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum Gray 1831) in two protected areas in northern Vietnam. Herpetology Notes 14: 1077-1085.

Tapley, B., Cutajar, T., Nguyen. L.T., Portway, C., Mahony, S., Nguyen, C.T., Harding, L., Luong, H.V., Rowley, J.J.L. 2021. A new potentially Endangered species of Megophrys from Mount Ky Quan San, northwest Vietnam. Journal of Natural History, 54: 2543-2575.

Tapley, B., Turvey, S.T., Chen, S., Wei, G., Xie, F., Yang, J., Liang, Z., Tian, H., Wu, M., Okada, S., Wang, J., Lü, J., Zhou, F., Xu, J., Haipeng, Z., Redbond, J., Brown, T. Cunningham, A.A. 2021. Range-wide decline of Chinese giant salamanders Andrias spp. from suitable habitat. Oryx journal of fauna and flora international, 00: 1-9.

Turvey, S.T., Chen, S., Tapley, B., Liang, Z., Wei, G., Yang, J., Wu, M., Che, J. Xao, H., Redbond, J., Brown, T., & Cunningham A.A. 2021. From dirty to delicacy? Changing human exploitation in China threatens the world’s largest amphibians. People and Nature, 3: 446-456.

Tapley, B., Jervis, P., Nguyen, L.T., Portway, C., Nguyen, C.T., Luong, H.V., Kane, D., Brookes, L., Perkins, M.W., Ghosh, P., Wierzbicki, C., Shelton, J., Fisher, M.C., Rowley, J.J.L. 2020. Low prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis detected in amphibians from Vietnam’s highest mountains. Herpetological review, 51: 726-732.

Tapley, B., Nguyen, L.T., Cutajar, T., Nguyen, C.T., Portway, C., Luong, H.V., Rowley, J.J.L. 2020. The tadpoles of five Megophrys Horned frogs (Amphibia: Megophryidae) from the Hoang Lien Range, Vietnam. Zootaxa, 4845: 035-052

Kanagavel, A., Parvathy, S., Tapley, B., Nirmal, N., Selvaraj, G., Raghavan, R., Murray, C., Owen, N., Turvey, S.T. 2020. Are local and traditional ecological knowledge suitable tools for informing the conservation of threatened amphibians in a biodiversity hotspot? Herpetological Bulletin, 153: 3-13.

Turvey, S.T., Marr, M.M., Barnes, I., Brace, S., Tapley, B., Murphy, R.W., Zhao, E., Cunningham, A.A. 2019. Historical museum collections clarify the evolutionary history of cryptic species radiation in the world's largest amphibians. Ecology and Evolution, 9: 10070-10084.

Jayson, S., Ferguson, A., Goetz, M., Routh, A., Tapley, B., Harding, L., Michaels, C.J., Dawson, J. 2018. Comparison of the nutritional content of the captive and wild diets of the Critically Endangered mountain chicken frog (Leptodactylus fallax) to improve its captive husbandry. Zoo Biology, 37: 332-346.

Kanagavel, A., Parvathy, S., Chundakatil, A.P., Dahanukar, N., Tapley, B. 2018. Distribution and habitat associations of the Critically Endangered frog Walkerana phrynoderma (Anura: Ranixalidae), with an assessment of potential threats, abundance, and morphology. Phyllomedusa, 17: 21-37.

Turvey, S.T., Chen, S., Tapley, B., Wei, G., Xie, F., Yan, F., Yang, J., Liang, Z., Tian, H., Wu, M., Okada, S., Wang, J., Lü, J., Zhou, F., Papworth, S.K., Redbond, J., Brown, T., Che, J., Cunningham, A.A. 2018. Imminent extinction in the wild of the world’s largest amphibian. Current Biology, 28: R592-R594.

Yan, F., Lü, J., Zhang, B., Yuan, Z., Zhao, H., Huang, S., Wei, G., Mi, X., Zou, D., Xu, W. Chen, S., Wang, J., Feng, X., Wu, M., XIaou, H., Liang, Z., Jin, J., Wu, S., Xu, C., Tapley, B., Turvey, S.T., Papenfuss, T.J., Cunningham, A.A., Murphey, R.W., Zhang, Y., Che, J. 2018. The Chinese giant salamander exemplifies the hidden extinction of cryptic species. Current Biology, 28: R590-R592.

Tapley, B., Michaels, C.J., Gumbs, R., Böhm, M., Leudtke, J., Pearce-Kelly, P., Rowley, J.J.L. 2018. The disparity between species description and conservation assessment: A case study in taxa with high rates of species discovery. Biological Conservation, 220: 209-214.

Tapley, B., Cutajar, T., Mahony, S., Nguyen, C.T., Dau, V.Q., Luong, A.M., Le, D.T., Nguyen, T.T., Nguyen, T.Q., Portway, C., Van Luong, H., Rowley, J.J.L. 2018. Two new and potentially highly threatened Megophrys Horned frogs (Amphibia: Megophryidae) from Indochina’s highest mountains. Zootaxa, 4508: 301-333.

Nicholson, D., Tapley, B., Jayson, S., Dale, J., Harding, L., Spencer, J., Sulton, M., Durand, S., Cunningham, A.A. 2017. Development of in-country live food production for amphibian conservation: The Mountain Chicken Frog (Leptodactylus fallax) on Dominica, West Indies. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 11: 59-68.

Tapley, B., Cutajar, T., Mahony, S., Nguyen, C.T., Dau, V.Q., Nguyen, T.T., Van Luong, H., Rowley, J.J.L. 2017. The Vietnamese population of Megophrys kuatunensis (Amphibia: Megophryidae) represents a new species of Asian horned frog from Vietnam and southern China. Zootaxa, 4344: 465-492.

Michaels, C.J., Tapley, B., Harding, L., Bryant, Z., Grant, S., Sunter, G., Gill, I., Nyingchia, O., Doherty-Bone, T. (2015). Breeding and rearing the Critically Endangered Lake Oku Clawed Frog (Xenopus longipes Loumont and Kobel 1991). Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 9: 100-110.

Tapley, B., Bradfield, K.S., Michaels, C., Bungard, M. 2015. Amphibians and conservation breeding programmes: do all threatened amphibians belong on the ark? Biodiversity and conservation, 24: 2625-2646.

Tapley, B., Rendle, M., Baines, F.M., Goetz, M., Bradfield, K.S., Rood, D., Lopez, J., Garcia, G., Routh, A. 2015. Meeting ultraviolet B radiation requirements of amphibians in captivity: A case study with mountain chicken frogs (Leptodactylus fallax) and general recommendations for pre-release health screening. Zoo Biology, 34: 46-52.

Gower, D.J., Doherty-Bone, T., Loader, S.P., Wilkinson, M., Kouete, M.T., Tapley, B., Orton, F., Daniel, O.Z., Wynne, F., Flach, E., Müller, H. 2013. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection and lethal chytridiomycosis in caecilian amphibians (Gymnophiona). EcoHealth, 10: 173-183

Check out some of the projects Ben works on

  • Botsford’s leaf-litter frog
    Frogs of Fansipan

    Vietnam frog conservation

    We've helped discover several new species in Vietnam, fixing the knowledge gap of species in Southeast Asia and safeguarding endangered species.

  • Mountain chicken frog sitting on forest floor

    Mountain chicken conservation

    Creating routes to recovery through cutting-edge scientific research and breeding at London Zoo.

  • Chinese giant salamander sitting on a rock beside a stream
    Creating a new future for an ancient species

    Chinese giant salamander conservation

    Together with our partners, we completed the largest ever wildlife survey in Chinese conservation history, and discovered just 24 giant salamanders, all of which were likely escapees from farms.